Timothy James (better known by his stage name – Maths Time Joy) is a music producer/singer-songwriter from the UK who crafts lush hypnotic beats that flutter between multiple music genres.
Maths Time Joy was influenced by the likes of Dr Dre, James Blake, Flying Lotus and Kayne West. LYFSTYL decided to catch up with MTJ to learn a little about his background and creative processes.
What’s the story behind the name Maths Time Joy?
It’s an anagram of my first two names, Timothy James.
Tell us about your music. How did you develop your sound?
I started out around the time when the whole post-dubstep stuff was coming up, so that was originally what I wanted to get into, but I think now it’s definitely developed away from that. It’s much more soulful\RnB vibes now, but hopefully there’s still that thread running through it all where you can hear that it’s connected in some way.
When did you first become exposed to Electronic Music and decide to start producing it?
I used to just make straight hip-hop, but around 2012 when I went to uni I started getting into more of the stuff I listen to now, hearing Flying Lotus and Burial, those two really started me developing my own stuff in more of that style.
What do you think makes you and your type of music unique from other artists?
I think coming from playing in bands first, then making sample based hip hop, gives me a different perspective to making the more electronic music. I always try and play live instruments in my tunes. There’s so many pre-programmed synths around, which is why a lot of stuff starts to sound the same. I think when you play live instruments it always makes it sound much more organic.
It’s quite obvious listening to your music that your influences are pretty varied, what or who has been you biggest influence?
Thanks, I always want to try and keep my music like that. I used to listen to bands mainly, The Strokes/Bloc Party which is why I started playing guitar. Then it was like Dr Dre, DJ Premier, Kanye, then now things like Flying Lotus and Sampha. I listen to a lot of soul music too – The Isley Brothers, Otis Redding.
When did you first realize that you had something special?
It’s a bit hard to really place that, I think everyone starts out making pretty terrible music. I guess when I made the first Maths Time Joy track, Faces, was when I really knew there was a sound there that I liked and was my own. I knew my hip hop stuff before was good but that was a lot of imitating other people’s sounds like Just Blaze/Premier etc.
How long and how hard was it to get to the point where you are now?
I’ve been doing the Maths Time Joy stuff for like 3 years roughly. I think originally I thought I’d just put up music and it would take off and all fall into place, but you need a lot of luck and hitting just the right moment for that kind of thing to happen. The journey is always good though, and there’s some amazing opportunities I’ve been offered recently so it’s definitely a good moment now for me.
You released the phenomenal Sanctuary earlier this year and its a very sexy sounding EP. The vocalist you chose fit perfectly with your sound – how did the collaboration with them come about?
Thanks, I wanted to try and choose people that I really liked but also fitted the sound of the EP. Cerulean was done a long time ago, I think most people know who that is singing, but we weren’t allowed to use his name as a feature in the end because of management stuff. Tabanca; I’d heard her stuff a while ago and really liked her voice and writing. I always want to try and work with vocalists who are good songwriters too. The other 2 features, Flores And Que Hampton, were done over email as they live outside the UK. Que Hampton I was a fan of through his features on Bishop Nehru’s tracks, and Flores just reached out on Soundcloud.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
There’s so many people I’d love to work with. Bon Iver would be amazing, he’s one of my favourite artists. Also Sampha I’ve always wanted to work with for ages, his voice is crazy. Also Nick Hakim. Then some like Kanye West or Flying Lotus, I’d love to just see how they work.
Do you have a favourite track that you’ve produced?
Not one in particular, I like to try and not do the same sound twice so that allows me to make a lot of different styles. I’m still a fan of Jupiter Greyscale, the track I produced for Gallant, and I guess Faces, as that was the first thing I did so I always remember that. I also like the alternate version of Atlantis with Chuuwee, he’s someone I’m a big fan of.
What’s your favourite release of the year so far and why?
I don’t know if there’s one which is my definite favourite, these ones I really liked though:
Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo and Youth – He used to be my favourite rapper, I think he’s amazingly talented, but recently his music’s not been great. This album was really good though.
Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – Surf – Loads of soulful music on here, I think Chance is great too even though it’s not his album. It’s nice to hear real instruments all over an album.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly – Obviously a lot of people’s choice, it’s not really something you can dip in and out of as it’s so much a whole project, but the musicianship and his writing is crazy.
Nao – February 15 – I’m a big fan of Nao, her songwriting is really original and the production she chooses as well is really interesting.
So what are Maths Time Joy’s plans for the near future? Future releases/upcoming shows? (Please tell me you have an album in the works.)
I’m working on a new EP, the next thing I think though is an EP I’ve produced for Flores (she sung on After Hours) which I’m releasing on my own label, True Colours – that’ll be out within the next month hopefully. I’m not working on an album yet, I want to wait till I have more profile because there are people I want to feature on it but they’d be too big for me to try and work with right now. Hopefully within a year or so. I want to work on a live show soon too, once I have a few more songs.
For more from Maths Time Joy, check them out on Tradiio.